cover image Rust & Stardust

Rust & Stardust

T. Greenwood. St. Martin’s, $26 (356p) ISBN 978-1-250-16419-3

Greenwood (The Forever Bridge) reimagines the true-crime story that inspired Nabokov’s Lolita in this riveting suspense tale that takes readers across state lines and through several years of terror. Eleven-year-old Sally Horner is a shy misfit longing for friendship when Frank LaSalle, pretending to be a cop, tricks her into thinking he could have her arrested after he observes her stealing a notebook. He then inveigles her into his custody and deceives her disabled, widowed mother as to his true identity and intentions. It’s all so chillingly plausible that, like Sally, the reader half-believes LaSalle’s lies; his assaults on Sally’s psyche are at least as troubling as his assaults on her young body as he takes the girl from Camden, N.J., to San Jose, Calif. A minor but important theme concerns the girls whose bullying and ostracism of Sally rendered her more vulnerable to LaSalle’s predation. Yet grace touches this dark tale, too, in the form of genuinely kind characters whose concern is a balm to the difficult events of the book—including Sally’s brother-in-law, whose dogged determination to find Sally drives the search, and a neighbor who turns out to be a lifeline. Greenwood’s story will spellbind readers as the terrors mounts. (Aug.)